This morning I’m chatting to Julie Creffield the founder of The Fat Girls Guide to Running. I met Julie last month in London on a Hay House Writers Event and we swapped business cards. I was immediately taken with what Julie is doing, and I have NO INTENTION of running, I might add. There is a spirit in her project that really appeals to me and I thought a breakfast interview would be a good place for me to find out more!
Julie in 2012 having just finished a 5mile run in the Olympic Stadium….ahead of Usain Bolt
Good Morning Julie! How are you and what are you having for breakfast today?
The fridge is empty so it’s a slice of toast with marmite and a cup of tea today. Breakfast is a really important meal, one I never skip. I try not to eat after 9pm in the evening so by morning I am starving. But I must go shopping this afternoon because I am out of milk and cereal is my normal breakfast of choice.
I’d love to know a bit more about your personality and how your discovery of yourself led you into your current projects. So how, and why, did all this start?
I have always had a zest for life, and I get bored easily. As a child I did dancing, football, judo, weighlifting, chess, stamp collecting, knitting, cross-stitch, brownies…you name it I did it. I loved to read too and spent hours and hours escaping into fantastical worlds and the lives of others. It’s no different for me as an adult, but now I’m frustrated at not having the time to explore everything the world has to offer. Its a shame we have to work really cos that seems to take up so much time.
Oh yes, I agree, Julie. There’s so much out there that we could engage in. We have lots of ways of stopping ourselves, but I don’t think you have stopped yourself engaging. I suppose you could have let weight be a reason for not engaging?
It was after having a full-time job for a while that my issues with my weight really started to become apparent, there were other factors too, but sitting at a desk didn’t help…I was working on the London 2012 Olympics and trying to inspire people to take up sport, so I had to start taking my own advice. I embarked on a weightloss and fitness journey which seems to be never ending, I started writing a blog a few years back when I was training for the London Marathon and it didn’t take long for me to realize that what I had to say was of use to others. I am a FAT girl that runs, and there are hundreds of other Fat runners, or Fat women that would love to run that just don’t have the confidence or the know how. My weight has been up and down, my running is on and off and just to throw a spanner in the works I am now a mum too. But the one thing that I try to communicate to my followers (and remember myself) is that it’s not your body that is letting you down, it’s your mind. Its is your mind that runs a marathon, your trainers come along for the ride, and your body pays the price in the aftermath.
Julie’s changing shape
That’s so true, but I really value that you got on with doing what you wanted without letting yourself get over involved in your weight!
What do you do and do you have a ‘typical day’?
I am currently a full time mum and I am also using this time to focus on my writing and my fitness but I don’t really have a typical day as such, and I like that. Much to my Fiancés annoyance I start checking messages sometimes as early as 5am, I have lots of readers from the USA so a lot happens while I sleep and I love nothing better than seeing who has joined in the debate overnight.
My daughter Rose is 8 months old and at that stage where she is in to everything. She is full of beans just like me and loves having my full attention, so I do bits of work whilst she is napping or playing, but its never enough time to do all the things I would like to.
I am currently training for a Spring marathon and am struggling to get out the 3 times a week I need to, so sometimes I set up a circuit in my front room, and Rosie joins in the fun too!!
It’s really interesting to see the person behind the project and I always find it easier to relate to a real, rather than perfect, person. Do you see a connection between what you do and what I do at blue skies?
I think the connecting theme is that of hope. When you struggle with your weight it can seem hopeless at times, hopeless and lonely. The topics I talk about and the debates I start help me to reach out to individuals who often say they have nobody else to talk to about these issues. But I also show them through changing your mindset and making small lifestyle changes that anything is possible. “Oh I could never run a marathon” is something I hear nearly everyday and I always respond in the same way “Says who?” I don’t for a minute suggest I have all the answers and I am not by any means at goal weight myself, but I am an advocate for running as an expression of my zest for life, I may not be the most speedy or elegant of runners but I get out there and I run.
I think ultimately, we are both about enabling people to become better versions of themselves. I am currently working with 15 overweight ladies from across the globe, preparing them for their first Spring Marathon, I get so much satisfaction from seeing them reach their goals, and believing in their own potential for the first time. Many of these ladies could not run for more than 1 minute when we started in May, some of them are now running 5K and 10K races, and last weekend I flew to Lisbon to run with one lady who was attempting her first half marathon. She was awesome, and finished over 15 minutes ahead of me. (It was 29 degrees with no shade so I think she had a home advantage).
Yes, I think we both offer hope and encouragement. I would also say we both adhere to the idea of working with what you have, being who you are and not striving to be someone else, so a self acceptance and a self care approach to happiness.
Julie mile 16 into the London Marathon
What do you see your purpose or message to be?
My message is simple. If you are overweight and would like to run, you should be able to run, without fear of abuse or ridicule or without the struggle to find fitness attire that…well fits. My purpose, well I feel like that is something which evolves daily, I have never thought too much about my next career move, things have always fallen in to place just when they need to.
Any message for our readers?
Embrace and work with the body you have now, don’t obsess about the body you want in the future because that’s when self loathing begins and the journey seems too difficult. Our body is the most amazing thing we have, its ability to heal itself and put right the mistakes of our youth astounds me. Run while you can, because you never know when you won’t be able to run anymore, and if you seriously can’t run yet then walk, get up, get out and get moving.
Hear hear! That’s fantastic, Julie, I hope this interview will spread that message even further – readers, please ‘share’.
What would you like to happen in your future, Julie, do you have any further ambitions?
I would love to be able to work on the Fat Girls Guide to Running concept fulltime, and not have to worry about finding a job to pay the bills. I would like to get my book of the same name published to take my message to a more mainstream audience. I have so many ideas for people and organizations to work with. I would love to lead an international campaign to force sports brands to ALL manufacture technical kit larger than a UK size 16…oh and I would love to run my next marathon in under 5 hours.
I feel very enthusiastic about your project, I think your enthusiasm is infectious. Your ambitions sound realisable and I look forward to seeing you interviewed on TV and coming to your book signing.
So what does today hold for you?
Today I have a meeting with a UK athletics run activator about setting up a running club for new mums. I already run a huge international running club, well it’s more of a running event really but the participants are very loyal and come back every month for more. The event is called onebigfatrun and it is a FREE virtual 5K designed especially for plus sized runners, we have people from all 5 continents take part the dream is to get 1 million plus sized runners take part.
This evening when my partner returns home I will try and get out for a quick run, the winter is on its way and I don’t like running in the dark, but there is no other way right now and I have to keep my eye on the prize.
A FREE virtual 5K? I look forward to hearing more about that.
Thank you so much for having breakfast with me today, Julie, I’m feeling inspired and enthused and I am sure our readers have enjoyed our breakfast too.
And finally, how can readers hear more from you or contact you? What are your contact details?
You can subscribe to my blog at www.thefatgirlsguidetorunning.com
Follow me on twitter @fattymustrun
Like me on Facebook www.facebook.com/thefatgirlsguidetorunning
Or email me at email@example.com
I’s love to hear your views on the issues I raise, and don’t be afraid to share my blog with your networks…you don’t need to be fat to join in… you don’t have to like running either. But be warned the sneaky question of. “I wonder if I could?” has a habit of creeping up on you.
And Remember October is Blue Skies Self Esteem Boost Challenge over on Facebook!:
Simply pop over there on this link and click ‘like’ at the top of the page to receive tips, ideas and inspiration, in your daily newsfeed, for remembering you are perfectly imperfect!
You can also sign up to receive Miriam’s blog direct to your inbox on the right of this post.